On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the New England Revolution earned a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire. The game seemed destined to end scoreless until the 91st minute when Diego Fagundez slipped the ball to Kelyn Rowe who scored the game’s decider. The win gives the Revolution four points in the Desert Diamond Cup. Below are five thoughts from the game.
1. Brad Knighton took ownership of the starting position. On the most recent episode of the Midnight Ride Podcast, host Hank Alexandre stated that neither Bobby Shuttleworth nor Knighton had officially claimed the starting position. On Wednesday, Knighton made it clear that he was Matt Reis’ heir. The former Vancouver man has been outstanding in preseason, showcasing his ability to be a vocal leader that can make awe-inspiring stops. Knighton continued that tradition on Wednesday when he helped organize the makeshift defense in front of him. Knighton also had at least three clutch, full-stretch stops to help keep the game level.
2. Pierre Omanga and Dimitry Imbongo might be too similar. Playing on opposite wings, it was easy to compare Omanga and Imbongo. Both are raw players that use their impressive physicality to fend off defenders. Both are natural forwards that have spent time in the midfield. Perhaps most importantly, both require an international slot. Omanga hasn’t had a poor preseason, but his likenesses to Imbongo might keep him off the roster. If he does sign, it’s likely that Omanga spends the year in Rochester.
3. Steve Neumann can strike a ball. After missing the entirety of the Bradenton trip, Neumann has contributed significant minutes as an attacking midfielder while the team has been in Tucson. The rookie has provided some sharp moments thus far, most notably on set pieces. On Wednesday, Neumann had a dangerous free kick in the 39th minute that was nearly nodded in by Andy Dorman. Neumann later provided an in swinging corner kick that threatened the Chicago net. With the midfield already crowded, it might be difficult to find a place for Neumann, but the team could certainly benefit from his free kick prowess.
4. Diego Fagundez and Teal Bunbury are going to be fun to watch. Although they’ve only played two games together, it’s clear that Fagundez and Bunbury are forming a mutually beneficial partnership. After helping Bunbury score a goal in his first game as a Revolution player, Fagundez had several sharp moments with the Canadian-born striker. The quick passing and synchronized runs are exactly what Revs fans are hoping to see. Bunbury is adjusting well to his new team, fully fitting in with the youth revolution.
5. Shalrie Joseph didn’t show much in his brief re-debut. On Wednesday, Joseph played is first game in Revolution colors since Jul. 29, 2012. Joseph spent approximately 5 minutes on the pitch before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. During his short time on the field, Joseph looked sluggish and struggled to keep possession. While it should be considered that Joseph hasn’t played a competitive game in four months, Joseph didn’t do himself any favors in his quest to earn a contract with the Revs.